Month: July 2014

Poll of Polls update – 31 July 2014

Roy Morgan has just released their latest poll, and finally there’s some relatively good news for the Left! It certainly didn’t take long for Micky Savage at the Standard to have a quick half-gloat… Or Martyn Bradbury at the Daily Blog (especially since Roy Morgan calls cellphones and is thus the only poll worth following, don’t ya know!)…

National slumps significantly, down 5% to 46%, it’s worst poll result from any of the major pollsters since the mid-May Roy Morgan, where National registered at 45.5%.

Labour climbs to 30%, up 6.5%. 30% may not be an amazing result, but given that Labour has had a run of ten major polls in a row placing them under 30%, it’ll give the party something to finally smile about.

The Greens may have dropped 3%, but they’re still on a creditable 12%, leaving a combined Labour/Greens bloc 4% adrift of National.

For the remaining minor parties, there’s good news for Internet Mana, up 1% to 2.5%. NZ First is down 1%, but they still sit exactly on the 5% threshold. The Maori Party gains 0.5% to 1.5%, while the Conservative Party remains static on 1%, and ACT and United Future sit unchanged on 0.5%.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 50.1% (-0.3%)

Labour: 27.7% (+0.2%)

Greens: 11.9% (nc)

NZ First: 4.6% (nc)

Maori: 1.0% (nc)

United Future: 0.2% (+0.1%)

ACT: 0.5% (nc)

Internet Mana: 1.9% (+0.1%)

Conservative: 1.5% (nc)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 64 (-1)

Labour: 36 (+1)

Greens: 15 (-1)

NZ First: 0 (nc)

Maori: 1 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 3 (+1)

There’s some interesting movement, both in the poll result and seat allocations.

Poll result-wise, the big news is that United Future finally hit 0.2% again, having been marooned on 0.1% since late May!

National finally drops, but stays above 50%, while Labour finally stops dropping and rebounds slightly to 27.7%. In fact, just look at Labour’s last six major poll results – 23.5%, 24.9%, 26.5%, 26.7%, 28% and now 30%. There’s an upward trend there, for those on the Left looking for glimmers of hope!

Internet Mana continues its gradual climb, now up to 1.9%, and that’s just enough to get them a third seat, bringing in Annette Sykes. It’s at the cost of the Greens, who drop a seat, back down to 15 MPs, while National drops a seat to Labour.

That means that there’s a net gain of just one seat to the Left. Overall, the Right bloc is back to a total of 66 seats in total, compared to 54 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance.


Where are Labour’s billboards?

On Sunday, I drove from Gisborne to Katikati, through Opotiki, Te Puke and Tauranga. Yesterday afternoon/evening, I made the return journey. One thing I noticed is that National Party billboards popped up regularly, mixtures of individual candidates’ billboards (simply stating National and the candidate’s name) and the party billboards featuring John Key and the “Working for New Zealand” slogan. There was a healthy dose of Maori Party and Mana and Internet Mana billboards too, as they duke it out in Ikaroa-Rawhiti and Wairiki.

Labour Party billboards? Not so much. Almost non-existent, in fact. Certainly outnumbered at least ten to one by National.

Is Labour giving up on winning votes outside Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch? Sure, it’s a stretch of solidly safe National seats (Anne Tolley in East Coast through to Simon Bridges in Tauranga), but seeing more Maori Party and Internet Mana billboards than Labour billboards was a surprise.

What’s the situation like in other provinces?

Where to now for Colin and the Conservatives?

It’s (almost*) official – there’s no deal for Colin Craig in East Coast Bays. Murray McCully will not be knifed, thrown under a bus or given concrete shoes to go swimming in. Given that Mr Craig had already accepted he couldn’t win if Mr McCully stood against him, I think we can safely say that the odds of an electoral seat victory for the Conservatives are about nil.

(Mr Craig will undoubtedly have done exhaustive polling in the seat, and his polling has evidently given him nothing to trumpet to the media. Although, given Mr Craig’s polling apparently put him on course to win the Rodney electorate last election, which of course he lost by a landslide, any polling announcements showing him on course to win anything would likely have to be treated with a healthy fistful of salt.)

Matthew Hooton has discussed on several occasions National’s internal polling on the likely impact of the Conservatives, which showed that National will lose at least 2% if it did a deal with Colin Craig in East Coast Bays. Essentially, the Conservatives needed to be polling above 3% to make a deal worthwhile, and the simple fact is that they haven’t come close. They’ve made 2.8% and 2.7% in the last two TV3 Reid Research polls. However, of the last dozen major polls released, the only time they’ve been above 2% is in those two Reid Research polls. The remainder of the polls have had them between 0.9% and 1.7%. In this site’s Poll of Polls they’re currently sitting on 1.5%.

National has looked at the polling and decided that a deal simply isn’t worth it.

With the door closed on an electorate, that leaves just one alternative – to make a desperate last-minute dash for the 5% threshold. Given their current polling, it’s highly unlikely they’ll make it.

For a start, prospective small-c conservative voters who might have considered throwing in their lot with Colin Craig have now been sent a signal by National that their vote will be wasted. Those voters are now far more likely to go to National or NZ First. It’s in National’s best interests to now squash the Conservative Party vote – the lower the Conservatives go, the less wasted vote for National to worry about.

When Matthew Hooton appeared as a guest speaker at the recent Conservative Party conference, he told them they needed to be bolder – to embrace the God vote and to look at more extreme policy platforms such as bringing back the death penalty. Given that Mr Craig has already ruled out supporting the death penalty on TV3s The Nation, going for the God vote is probably the Conservatives’ only hope now. Colin Craig has gone head-to-head with Winston Peters and it’s got him nowhere. Mr Peters is very good at being Mr Peters; Colin Craig comes off as a pale imitation.

Regardless of where Colin Craig tacks, policy- and image-wise, it’s fairly safe to say that Mr Craig can kiss his three years worth of investment in his party goodbye. If the party gets no higher than it did at the last election, or even sinks below its 2011 vote, one wonders whether Mr Craig will bother looking to 2017.

* Although John Key has said he won’t pull Murray McCully from East Coast Bays, technically there’s still room for a reversal on that position right up until 26 August when nominations close. Of course, for Mr Key to perform an about-face, something catastrophically wrong would have had to happen to National’s polling, given how desperate such an about-face would look.

Poll of Polls update – 30 July 2014

So the latest One News Colmar Brunton poll came out on Sunday. I was up in Tauranga, preparing for a trial, which meant no blogging (plus, it’s remarkably difficult to update a Poll of Polls and then blog about it, when all you have is a mobile phone, smart as that mobile phone may be).

The results are days old, so I won’t bother to recap them (suffice it to say that National gets over 50% – again; and Labour gets under 30% – again). However, given that I’m now back in Gisborne, seated in front of a computer, I thought I’d at least update the Poll of Polls with the Colmar Brunton results.

So here’s how the Poll of Polls looks now:

National: 50.4% (+0.4%)

Labour: 27.5% (-0.2%)

Greens: 11.9% (-0.2%)

NZ First: 4.6% (nc)

Maori: 1.0% (-0.1%)

United Future: 0.1% (nc)

ACT: 0.5% (nc)

Internet Mana: 1.8% (nc)

Conservative: 1.5% (nc)

Based on those percentages, the parties are predicted to win the following number of seats:

National: 65 (+1)

Labour: 35 (-1)

Greens: 16 (nc)

NZ First: 0 (nc)

Maori: 1 (nc)

United Future: 1 (nc)

ACT: 1 (nc)

Internet Mana: 2 (nc)

Despite getting 28% in the latest Colmar Brunton poll, Labour falls yet again, thanks to the decreased time-weighting of some of the party’s more positive poll results. They continue on their slide towards 27%. On the other side of the coin, National continues its surge, breaching the 50% barrier for the first time. That means National gains a seat at Labour’s expense.

The only movement among the minor parties is a 0.2% drop for the Greens (back below 12%, but still keeping, if only just, the extra MP they gained in the last Poll of Polls update) and a 0.1% drop for the Maori Party.

The Conservatives remain on 1.5%, well below the 2% that National would lose if it struck a deal with Colin Craig, according to National’s internal polling. Understandably, National has rejected the prospect of a deal, but that’s for a further post…

Overall, the Right bloc now has a more than comfortable 67 seats in total, compared to just 53 for a Labour, Greens and Internet Mana alliance. Given that Winston Peters has put a hoodoo on working with Internet Mana, the Left’s position looks even more precarious.

Reconcile this, please, Mr Coleman

National’s Jonathan Coleman has some explaining to do. He has stated that:

“Ministers had absolutely no knowledge of any pending FBI-NZ Police investigation.”

The NZ Herald reports that Immigration NZ received a detailed briefing regarding the FBI’s interest in Kim Dotcom, ahead of Dotcom being granted residency. The briefing contained “classified information”, and was provided to Immigration NZs Intelligence Manager Theo Kuper. The Herald then reports that:

Mr Kuper didn’t give the classified briefing to the Immigration NZ officer making the decision but told him of FBI interest in Dotcom because of his Megaupload ownership, the spokesman said.

“This information formed the briefing to the head of Immigration New Zealand, Nigel Bickle, and in turn Mr Bickle’s briefing to the then Minister of Immigration, Jonathan Coleman, on 28 October 2010 to tell him under the no surprises policy that residence had been approved in principle.”

The briefing to Mr Coleman occurred on 28 October, with the decision to allow Dotcom residence being made the next day.

Now, it’s conceivable that Mr Coleman hasn’t technically lied. The Herald report is a little vague about what information was in fact passed on to Nigel Bickle – had Mr Kuper passed on the classified briefing, or had the officer handling Dotcom’s application passed on the more limited information (providing in essence a Chinese Whispers version of the classified briefing)?

Further, Mr Coleman denies knowledge “of any pending FBI-NZ Police investigation”. He hasn’t denied knowing that the FBI might have been interested in Dotcom; he’s denied knowledge of a pending joint investigation between the FBI and NZ Police.

Semantics? Maybe. And if Coleman’s defence is based on semantics, he needs to front up and explain exactly what he did or didn’t know. Because right now, it looks suspiciously like Mr Coleman has either deliberately lied to or wilfully misled the public…

Has Brownlee actually broken any laws?

So Gerry Brownlee was running late for a plane, sweet-talked some hapless airport security guard into letting him duck through an exit door to avoid the screening queue, and is now facing an investigation by the Civil Aviation Authority.

He’s offered to resign his Transport portfolio, which John Key has refused, producing much frothing from John Armstrong. Armstrong rants that:

The Transport portfolio includes responsibility for civil aviation. If the minister responsible for the rules covering airport security cannot be bothered abiding by those rules, why should anyone else feel they have to.

His being a minister also put airport security staff in a compromising position – and that is also unacceptable. As a minimum. John Key should have relieved Brownlee of the portfolio on a temporary basis until the Civil Aviation Authority’s investigation has ascertained exactly what happened – something which should take only a day or so at most. To some extent, however, Brownlee has – to his credit – pre-empted that investigation by admitting he was in the wrong and the one who is to blame.

This is no minor matter. Avoiding security screening is a serious offence which carries a fine of up to $3000 and up to two months in prison.

I’ve got a few issues with Mr Armstrong’s analysis. Firstly, Mr Brownlee has in fact requested that his responsibility for CAA to be transferred to his associate minister until the investigation has been completed. Michael Woodhouse now has interim responsibility for CAA.

Secondly, Mr Armstrong’s view seems predicated on Mr Brownlee actually having broken the law:

Like anyone else, Brownlee should not receive any special treatment and should face the potential legal consequences of his actions.

Cabinet ministers, however, also have to set an example. Otherwise the rule of law is rendered meaningless.

He equates Brownlee’s transgression with Ruth Dyson’s resignation as a Minister when she was caught drink driving.

So what law has Mr Brownlee broken? A NZ Herald article on the matter states that:

Section 28 of the Civil Aviation Amendment Act 2004 says a person commits an offence by acting “in a manner that endangers an aircraft or any person in an aircraft”.

For a start, s 28 of the Civil Aviation Amendment Act 2004 says no such thing. It’s a section that inserts Part 5A into the Civil Aviation Act 1990, which deals with “Unruly passenger offences”. Presumably, the Herald writer is referring to s 65F of the Civil Aviation Act (which was indeed one of the twenty sections inserted as Part 5A). However, it seems a rather large stretch to say that Brownlee’s endangered an aircraft. The section doesn’t say “might have endangered”. For a conviction, it has to be proved that the aircraft or any person in the aircraft were in fact endangered.

As far as I can see, the only possible sections of the Civil Aviation Act that could conceivably have broken are ss 51 and 54(1)(b). But even they don’t quite fit the facts of this case.

Section 51 states:

Every person commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 months or a fine not exceeding $2,000 who, without reasonable excuse, enters or remains within any aerodrome or any building or area in which are operated technical facilities or services for civil aviation, when directed not to enter or not to remain by a person duly authorised by the Director in writing for that purpose, a constable, or an aviation security officer, or by notice posted by one of those persons.

The problem is that Brownlee asked an aviation security officer whether he could go through the exit door. The security officer granted him access. He therefore wasn’t directed not to enter; in fact, the complete opposite is true. And having obtained permission from an aviation security officer to enter the area also sounds like a “reasonable excuse” to my mind.

Section 54(1)(b) states:

Every person commits an offence who, on being found in a security area or security enhanced area, refuses forthwith to leave the security area or security enhanced area after having been ordered by an aviation security officer to do so.

Again though, Brownlee hasn’t refused to leave after having been ordered to do so. He’s been granted access by an aviation security officer.

Now sure, the security officer’s actions, in letting Brownlee through, were certainly in breach of the airport’s rules, but as far as I can see there’s been no breach of the Civil Aviation Act by Gerry Brownlee.

Did Brownlee’s actions display a certain level of arrogance? Indeed, but that’s not a firing offence…


Key and Hauiti – don’t ask, don’t tell

How much money did National’s soon-to-be-former List MP Claudette Hauiti misspend on parliamentary credit card? We don’t know. As a mere backbencher, her credit card information can’t be OIAd, meaning that they only way we’ll ever find out is if she waives privilege.

The two examples of misspending that have been made public have been Ms Hauiti’s Christmas holiday flights to Australia and the purchase of refreshments at a hui. The flights apparently cost about $200, and she can’t recall what the refreshments would have cost. She says she doesn’t know, despite the fact that she has apparently repaid all funds erroneously spent. Surely she simply needs to look at her own repayment records, and she’ll have the answer ready and waiting?

Many people have pondered how return flights to Australia over Christmas could possibly have been purchased for just $200. They would therefore like answers from Hauiti regarding what the flights actually cost. Again, Hauiti can’t remember, preferring to fudge around the issue rather than go fact-checking.

The simple fact is that Ms Hauiti has misused taxpayer funds, and the taxpayer is entitled to know the details. Hauiti has a moral obligation to waive privilege, or at the very least to confirm to taxpayers the total amount she repaid.

Does John Key know? Apparently not. He says he hasn’t asked her how much money is involved:

“That’s actually not a matter for me.That’s a matter for Parliamentary Services and her. She made it quite to me that she was standing down from Parliament and that was on the back of the advice she’d had from the party, which took a pretty dim view to her making a mistake.”

It’s the same tactic Mr Key used in relation to the John Banks electoral fraud prosecution. In that particular situation, Key refused to read Banks’ police file. If he didn’t read the file, he couldn’t possibly discover anything that would suggest Banks had lied to him.

In Ms Hauiti’s case, if Key doesn’t ask her any questions, she can’t give him any answers. And if Key doesn’t have any answers, there’s can bat away all of the media’s questions with a blithe, “I don’t know”. How elegant. And how morally wrong.

UPDATE (24/7/14 @ 1.45pm):

I’ve just noticed this NZ Herald article, in which Ms Hauiti admits using her charge card to buy petrol for her personal car. She also explains that she doesn’t know how she repaid, as the repayments were small amounts made repeatedly over the year.

My point remains unchanged. Is Ms Hauiti’s record keeping so poor that she cannot trace her repayments to Parliamentary Services? And if it is, why can’t she simply approach Parliamentary Services and ask for the total figure? I’m sure they’d be happy to oblige…

The article also clarifies that the $200 relating to flights to Australia was in fact a fee to change a flight, “not for tickets her mother-in-law had paid for to attend a family trip”. So, her mother-in-law buys the tickets, then Ms Hauiti charges the taxpayer when the flights need changing, on the basis that she’ll be meeting or had met “with Maori in Australia who were registered on the Maori roll“.

Mike Hosking is not a Thing That Matters

TVNZ plans to have Mike Hosking as its moderator for the network’s televised leaders’ debates. To my mind, it’s a stupid choice, but then I’m someone who can’t stand Mr Hosking’s brand of ageing hipster, Paul Henry-esque, elitist minority bashing “broadcasting”. Nonetheless, to my never-ceasing bemusement, many people seem to think he’s TVNZs shining beacon of light. The same people generally also think Paul Henry is amusing, which always adds to my sense of befuddlement.

Labour has spat the dummy. Andrea Vance reports that Labour has compiled a dossier of examples of Mr Hosking being too close to National, and are trying to get Hosking shunted in favour of someone else, anyone else.

Certainly, Mike Hosking has created the impression of bias, having been MC at John Key’s State of the Nation speech in January last year. As MC, he gave National his endorsement, stating:

“We have bright prospects for the future, so long as you keep them in Government.”

Calling David Cunliffe a moron also won’t have helped Hosking’s sudden pretence of impartiality.

It’s an ongoing debate – should journalists and broadcasters be fastidiously impartial, keeping their personal views hermetically sealed from the public, or should they let their political colours be known, in order that we as viewers may judge their work in the light of that knowledge?

We know John Campbell is sympathetic to the left. We know Mike Hosking is sympathetic to the right. Both broadcasters wear their hearts on their sleeves. Therein lies the problem for Labour – it’s a little hypocritical to object to Hosking, when Campbell will be running TV3’s debates.

National has taken the moral high ground, with Stephen Joyce saying:

“We’ve all got to trust the professionalism of the interviewers There are people who think John Campbell is to the Left but the prime minister is more than happy to front on both TV channels.”

Which is what Labour should have said, from the opposite perspective of course. At the end of the day, if Hosking presents bias in his role of moderator, the public will pick up on it and factor it into their views on who won or lost.

Making Labour’s spat with Hosking public may ensure that Hosking goes out of his way to be impartial, but the party comes across as a pack of whingers, just as it did with its carping about John Key’s time with the Royals, and its whining about National playing politics on Key’s Pacific Mission.

David Cunliffe, at his last apology session on Monday, was clear that Labour needed to focus on its policies and not get sidetracked. This is very much a side track. Mike Hosking is not a Thing That Matters.

Sorry – it’s a complicated word

The art of saying sorry – it’s a tough one. Apologise like Lou Vincent, and win plaudits left, right and centre. Apologise like Aaron Gilmore, and everything just gets worse.

It’s been an odd time lately for apologies.

David Cunliffe of course apologised for being a man, was lauded by the feminists, dragged over the coals by most of the male population (including moi), and is now back-pedalling and regretting his choice of words.

Which didn’t stop him apologising earlier this week for taking a three day holiday and for wearing a red scarf too often. Thankfully, he stopped short of apologising for spending two days ill with the flu, but by then everyone was already laughing at him regardless. Sometimes you just need to suck it up, bite back the sorry-you-don’t-mean and say, “Screw you, I had a three day holiday. I think most New Zealanders don’t care that the Leader of the Opposition had some time off. Get over it. And I like my red f*!king scarf. The weather’s cold, it keeps me warm, and I like how it looks. If I want fashion tips, I’ll go see Colin Mathura-Jeffree.”

On the opposite end of the sorry spectrum is John Key, as he’s pressed for an apology to Tania Billingsley. Back on 3 July, he would have apologised to her if he’d known her name, which of course wasn’t in the public domain at that time. On Monday though, despite her name being well and truly out in the open, no apology. Apparently Mr Key only apologies if there’s a serious reason for him to so.

I don’t understand quite why Mr Key is so unwilling to now apologise.

Firstly, there’s no way that any Government inquiry is going to be prejudiced by an apology. Apologising for the stress that Ms Bllingsley went through as a result of discovering that her alleged attacker had been allowed to leave New Zealand, and apologising for any perception that the Government didn’t give a damn about her, is not going to pre-judge any findings that inquiry head John Whitehead may make.

Secondly, it’s just bad politics. Key said he’d apologise if he knew her name. Now he won’t. It looks defensive and mean-spirited, and it looks like you can’t take him on his word.

‘Mean-spirited’ is perhaps rather an important word here. Cameron Slater of course ripped into Ms Billingsley on his blog, attacking her for having a political motive to her decision to put her name into the public arena and tell her story. Perhaps Mr Key feels the same sour grapes, which might explain his sudden about-face on the apology issue.

Whatever his reasons, his ongoing lack of an apology is doing him no favours.

Claudette Hauiti doesn’t wait for a third strike

National Party list MP Claudette Hauiti has this morning announced her retirement from politics. It’s safe to say that since she came in to Parliament as Aaron Gilmore’s replacement, back in May last year, her career as a backbench MP has been somewhat less than stellar. Her sole headlines have been negative – employing her wife in contravention of Parliament’s rules, and misusing her Parliamentary charge card.

Her recent appearance on Backbenchers was laughably bad, especially in comparison to her fellow guests, the seasoned Phil Goff and the ever-ebulient Gareth Hughes. On the subject of the Greens’ Clean Rivers policy, all she could offer was a repeated mantra that the Greens’ would not be consulting and liaising enough with Maori on the policy; it was a line that ignored the question of whether National believes our river quality is adequate, that ignored the question of why National’s policy would produce better results than the Greens’, that ignored the issues altogether. She was out of her depth, and it showed.

I thought at the time of her Backbenchers appearance that Ms Hauiti was symptomatic of National’s electoral success. It’s hard finding sufficiently high-calibre candidates to fill a list of 40, let alone the 75 that National went with in 2011. When a party gets damn near to 60 MPs, with the addition of a selection of mid-term retirements, people start arriving in Parliament that the party might well wish were not. That certainly seems true of Claudette Hauiti, who went into the 2011 election as number 63 on National’s list.

So why is she bowing out now, less than two months before election day? Presumably, she’s been given advance warning that her list ranking position was going to be dreadful (National is just days away from releasing their list). One can only assume that not only was she was going to be dead last among National’s sitting MPs, but that a fair few new candidates would be leap-frogging her. It’s the party’s way of saying “You’re not wanted”, and she’s evidently bitten the bullet.

It remains to be seen whether National quickly reopen nominations for the new seat of Kelston, where Hauiti has been selected to stand, or whether she continues to run a campaign there, safe in the knowledge that she will lose to Carmel Sepuloni.

UPDATE 22/07/14 @ 1.50pm:

National Party President Peter Goodfellow has confirmed that the party will re-open nominations for Kelston tomorrow, with nominations closing on 30 July.

And further reports that:

It is understood Hauiti reached her decision after Prime Minister John Key phoned her last night.

It is believed he would have reiterated what others had been telling her, that there was no future for her in National and that she had come to be seen as a liability.